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jed
jed
March 29, 2010 12:54 am

IF we go the ‘Global Guardian’ route – which I don’t actually think the UK can afford…..

So, no we don’t need this capability, the Americans can afford it (or think they can) because they still want Pax Americana under the auspices of a ‘Global War on Terror’. Even if we wanted to do this, from political and military perspectives, is it worth the effort ? Once again the RAF would be treading on the toes of others (SAS !) in some aspects of this role.

Richard Stockley
March 29, 2010 9:18 am

Apart from the fact that we can’t really afford it, what about the additional pilots and technical support? Where do conjure them up from?

The special forces are already there, rather than having a permanent force on standby it would be better to bring them all together on an op by op basis and utilise our existing aircraft fleet.

If we need aircraft that we don’t have then leasing them in should be a viable alternative.

Euan
March 29, 2010 10:58 am

Look he mentioned the RN too good to resist. I would quite like to see the Royal Marines with a few customised Merlin and other equipment to conduct covert or semi-covert operations primarily from the sea. Or as has been mentioned before conduct tri-service combat search and rescue duties as the marines can be found at sea and on land also UK SAR is being privatised so keeping something in house might be an idea. As for general special op’s I don’t think we need an RAF special operations force but a tri-service SOCOM might be useful drawing from across the armed forces basically the best that can be found. Ideally with its own independent budget and a larger freedom of control in certain aspects for instance getting kit that it wants but maybe isn’t politically correct a bit like what the USAF SOCOM does. We already have a few Special Forces and Elite Units in the UK Armed Forces so instead of creating a new one work with what we have by maybe changing things around a bit organisation wise. Possibly having a single large tri-service force command with specialised groups within it or a large tri-service mainly support and logistics force with the SAS, SBS etc still independent?

At the end of the day however who knows what the UK Special Forces have as toilet seats don’t cost megabucks neither do nuts and bolts that money must be going somewhere. Either that or the MoD sucks even more than I thought it did before and they truly live on another planet with little green men. Also with all the money being spent on the current wars and the importance of Special Forces in the ‘war on terror’ then I would hope they have been well enough resourced to do what they need to do.

paul g
March 29, 2010 12:49 pm

RAF commandos.no! the raf already has an infantry role and within that an airbourne sqn, no need to dilute any further, plus many go on to attempt and succeed in SF selection.
i would look at the eads 212 as this is being successfully used by the americans for resupply in AF using a combination of new systems. These include GPS deployed systems dropped from heights that avoid visual/aural detection, accuracy at the moment is +/- 15m. A use once and discard cheap parachute dropped from low level and also containers that absorb the impact when you literally throw it out the door!

As stated we are using large aircraft (herc/chinook) for light loads. these aircraft (212) can land on airstrips unsuitable for herc and also small and nimble enough for inaccesible areas. I have also pointed out on previous posts due to low cost running these can free up C130’s for more important tasks as there is a high percentage of people waiting to qualify for wings or obtain the required ammount of jumps to retain parachute pay.
cancel 2-3 more mega expensive A400m’s and use the money to buy this and maybe some 235/295’s eads won’t complain as the money is still going in their till, plus the infrastructre is set in madrid to train ground and air crew (madrid that’ll be a crap place to do a course)!!
as a subnote the 212 has a palletised maritime patrol suite therefore giving it yet another role, also france has ordered 8 eads 235’s as a stopgap whilst waiting for the A400.

DominicJ
March 29, 2010 1:31 pm

In the context of Afghanistan, yeah it makes some sense.
Some sort of air power would be a massive boon to the ANA, but they’ll never be able to operate C-130 sized craft, they can barely raise the taxes to pay the wages to 200,000 soldiers in a land where $5 a day is a good wage, how are they going to afford A400m?

That said, we probably arent going to be in Afghanistan long term, and probably shouldnt be getting involved in fights like it ever again.

Jedibeeftrix
March 29, 2010 6:37 pm

“IF we go the ‘Global Guardian’ route – which I don’t actually think the UK can afford…..”

“Apart from the fact that we can’t really afford it, what about the additional pilots and technical support? Where do conjure them up from?”

Why don’t you guys believe we can afford Global Guardian?

DominicJ
March 29, 2010 8:25 pm

Why cant we afford “global guardian”

Lack of political will makes it futile.
The blue wet stuff makes it a poor choice.

Politicaly, Afghanistan is a clusterbleep that no sane person would ever hope for.
Policitaly, Wars are great as long as Mondays papers lead with “Crisis in place you’ve never heard of”, Fridays lead with “Brave Boys return for Tea, Cake and Medals” and somewhere inbetween “Brave Boys head off”, “Brave Boys have Jingoiastic Name on the run”, “Jingoistic Name Regime collapses”.

Jed
Jed
March 29, 2010 9:16 pm

Jedibeeftrix asks why I dont think we can afford Global Guardian – well because I think its pretty close to what the government thinks we are doing now, and its not funding that appropriately.

I don’t think any UK government of any political party would properly fund to the levels required to equip and maintain the UK Forces ‘properly’ for the Global Guardian role. Just my opinion.

Jedibeeftrix
March 30, 2010 12:17 am

The matter of whether it is the correct choice is separate.

All of the RUSI doctrines were designed to fit into the current funding regime (in fact the latter two would require less).

If we cannot trust the government to maintain even the current funding level then we might as well opt for a Home Defence force with a sustained peace-keeping function bolted on, and that is the question posed by RUSI:

“If you want the UK to be a Great Power, and you want to do it on the cheap as is currently the case, then you have some hard decisions to make to because it will be a very focused form of power-projection that survives.”

That focus can either be:
> naval/expeditionary centric (Strategic Raiding)
> army/COIN centric (Global Guardian)
> HQ/multilateral centric (Contributory)

whilst maintaing:
> the strategic deterrent

SDR98 was in essence all three of those roles, and it required at >least carrier/amphibs
> the large flexible army
> the ability to conduct theatre level out of area operations

and at that point the public may recognise that the game is up and opt to ditch:
> the strategic deterrent

There is a crunch coming and i will be content with any of the three main options above, (although i have a stated preference for one), but be in no doubt that if we fudge the issue we will by default become a Home Defence force with a sustained peace-keeping function bolted on (Gendarmerie), and the public will rightly ask what utility is gained by maintaining a strategic deterrent in such a reduced state………..

Give me 2.5% of GDP for peacetime defence spending and we could no doubt maintain at least two of those functions, and justify a strategic deterrent, but that is not where we are.

DominicJ
March 30, 2010 8:11 am

Repeat after me, cutting the strategic deterant changes nothing because its so cheap as to be functionaly free anyway.

The lifetime costs of trident replacement were estimated at £20b, thats less than £1b a year.

Had the cold war gone hot, the only 3 countries the Soviets expected to be spared a nuclear strike were France, Russia and The UK.
Thats not me saying that, thats the Soviets war plans as given to the Polish Armed forces at the time and published by them five or so years back.

Richard Stockley
March 30, 2010 10:09 am

“Repeat after me, cutting the strategic deterant changes nothing because its so cheap as to be functionaly free anyway…….thats less than £1b a year.”

Dominic, perhaps I’m in the old school where £1billion is still considered a lot of money. How many new helicopters is £1billion a year?

The Soviet war plans must be based on the assumption that we wouldn’t launch our nuclear weapons in retaliation. Would we have sat and watched the rest of Europe become a nuclear waste land? Its not the fact the deterrent is cheap its the fact that would could never afford to use it. Crack cocaine is probabaly considered cheap but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Also, how can we complain about a country like Iran trying to acquire a nuclear weapons programme when we have one?

Ok, you may say that Iran has an unpredictable and unstable regime. I’d say that’s because we helped make it that way as the UK tried to engineer a coup d’etat back in 1954, or there abouts. Perhaps if we formulated a more pricipled and effective foreign policy to try to make the world a more stable place we wouldn’t need to rely on nuclear weapons. When Iran captured UK sailors a couple of years ago, how good were nuclear weapons then? Neither are they any good against the Taliban. In fact, politically we keep getting repeatedly slapped in the face by nations such as Iran and nuclear weapons probabaly confound the issue.

I say scrap/don’t replace the nuclear deterrent and ring fence the money saved to actually purchase the kit we need.

Repeat after me: The only reason we have nuclear weapons is so that the UK can sit as a permanent member of the UN security council. Take that away and what are we?

Germany is a well respected industrial nation and is also nuclear free, should we not try to be more like them?

jedibeeftrix
March 30, 2010 12:38 pm

DJ – you are preaching to the converted:
http://jedibeeftrix.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/britain%E2%80%99s-future-strategic-direction-%E2%80%93-and-why-i-believe-the-ippr-are-wrong/
however, if they public are accomodated to a new reality of britain as just another medium sized power, exactly how long do you think a strategic deterrent will survive?

RS – budgets are never ring-fenced.

The RN have been playing that losing game for a long time, giving a few destroyers here, a few submarines there, each and every time the treasury hatchet man knocks on the door, and every time for the same reason; to protect the carriers.
“just one more little cut………………..”

Jed
Jed
March 30, 2010 2:15 pm

Jedibeeftrix said: “If we cannot trust the government to maintain even the current funding level then we might as well opt for a Home Defence force”

I agree entirely and I have said it on this site. Its about political will – if UK politicians of any ilk want to keep this absurd notion of being a ‘great power’ then they have to fund appropriately. If you can’t fund appropriately then “be a man” and put it state it clearly in your political agenda that under your parties Government you will:
* Transfer our seat on the UNSC to India
* Turn the RN into the Coast Guard
* Keep enough Squaddies to defend our own borders
* Keep enough Typhoons to escort away the odd Bear

Don’t lie about it, be honest. So, while I agree with everything in the RUSI documents, and personally prefer Strategic Raiding – I don’t see any government of any colour doing anything except more fudging, and underfunding whatever option is chosen. As for the deterent it could be made (even) cheaper without giving it up entirely, but if you give it up, and don’t have large conventional forces, how do you justify seat on UNSC ???

DominicJ
March 30, 2010 2:16 pm

Richard
Compared to other items of government spending, even in a starving defence sector, £1b is not a great deal of money.
Its construction of a T45, or the cost of maintaining 46 pilots and Typhoons in combat readiness for a year.
(£90,000 per hour x 20 hours per month x 12 months per year).

Perhaps I was a bit harsh, but pretending the UK could afford to buy 6 carrier battle groups and educate every child in africa if only it would unilateraly disarm its nuclear weapons is simply wrong.

“The Soviet war plans must be based on the assumption that we wouldn’t launch our nuclear weapons in retaliation. Would we have sat and watched the rest of Europe become a nuclear waste land? Its not the fact the deterrent is cheap its the fact that would could never afford to use it.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_to_the_River_Rhine
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/1504008/World-War-Three-seen-through-Soviet-eyes.html

Thats pretty much right.
The Soviets expected a nuclear attack by them on Denmark to lead to a nuclear attack by us on East Germany, or the other way round, which was acceptable all with a say.
Whereas a nuclear attack by Russia on the UK would lead to a nuclear attack by the UK on Russia, or the other way round, which was unacceptable to all with a say.

Much as I find the Soviet leadership a fascinating display in delusional behaviour, I believe they were right with this one.

“Also, how can we complain about a country like Iran trying to acquire a nuclear weapons programme when we have one?”
Easy, Iran signed a treaty saying they would never try and develop nuclear weapons.
Sign the NPT, no nuclear weapons.

“Germany is a well respected industrial nation and is also nuclear free, should we not try to be more like them?”
I’m not sure who its well respected by and why their respect is something we should seek, its doing Obama many favours right now, but had the Cold War gone hot, Germany would be a radioactive wasteland, and thats something I dont think the UK should try to be like.

DominicJ
March 30, 2010 2:48 pm

Jedi
“however, if they public are accommodated to a new reality of Britain as just another medium sized power, exactly how long do you think a strategic deterrent will survive?”
I don’t believe the public will come to terms with such a situation, any politician saying, “Come on, lets just face it, we’ve under funded the army so much we couldn’t stop Norway sacking London, we might as well get rid of Trident” is likely to find himself thrown out FOR failing to fund the armed forces to such a degree.
Even if we were to be thoroughly beaten in a conflict, I believe the mood would be one of rebuild and have a second go rather than meekly accept the result and confirm our status as a regional power in a peaceful region.

I could of course be wrong about that, but if I’m not, then the only people who consider nuclear weapons an issue that needs “discussing” are for the most part extremists in too small a number and with voting convictions too strong to be changed making themselves politically irrelevant.

There are circumstances in which abandoning the nuclear programme makes sense, but theres circumstances in which leaping from a building to your death is pretty sensible.
Getting to that point however, is pretty damned stupid.

“RS – budgets are never ring-fenced.”

That is so true its unbelievable.
I’ve worked for a large charity.
Each year, we’d come up with a prioritised list of stuff we wanted to do.
Say…

Maintain 80 Typhoons
Maintain Armoured Brigade
Maintain Super Carrier

We’d then look at our funding streams

Firstly, we’d use time limited specific funds, so if we had a grant that needed to be used this year and would fund the upkeep of 40 Typhoons, we’d use that.
Next, we’d look at none specified time limited funds, so if we had a commitment from someone to pay us £500m (about the upkeep of 20 Typhoons) next year, we’d spend that money.

Thirdly, we’d look at none time limited specific funding, so someone said, heres £125m, use it on Typhoons, at some point. The moneys popped in the bank waits around until we need to spend it, and we spend it here for another 10 Typhoons.

Finaly, we fund the 10 remaining Typhoons out of general spending.

For the most park, “ring fences” just displace general spending rather than set priorities.
And thats before we get into arguements about whether a Seaphoon carrying nuclear weapons is a strategic deterant
If it is, then the ring fenced budget to build SSBN’s can quite happily be spent on a ASW frigate, to protect the CVA, which will carry the nuclear armed Seaphoon….

jedibeeftrix
March 30, 2010 3:50 pm

I think the difference is that I believe people here are advocating a fudge, chop a little of everything, in the hope of keeping a useful core of the Armed Forces, and justifying it by saying the politicians don’t have the balls to go for a more focused strategy because they are terrified of adverse press because they ‘destroyed’ the RAF in our hour of need!!!

Whereas I believe that the budget is so small that any fudge will by default destroy what little power projection we have left, and that if we wish to remain an influential player on the world scene, then we need to have the courage of our convictions and argue for a strategy that really will justify that UNSC seat.

paul g
March 30, 2010 4:11 pm

how about stopping sending a shedload of cash to nations that abuse it, don’t need it ie “X” ammount of millions to india, who are spending BILLIONS on fighters and submarines and then splitting that between us if the tree huggers revolt then spend it on british firms making british things ie agricultrual equipment, solar/wind generators and then the jewel in the crown get the hell outta dodge (brussels). then our NHS won’t be burdened with holiday patients, people claiming benefits from some far flung eastern european capital and coughing up for MEP cocktail parties.

strangely enough i reckon there might be a bit more cash in the pot. Oooo i feel better now

Dave
Dave
November 19, 2011 12:07 am

A version of the X-55 ACCA might be interesting